Dear Stacey at 25,
Wow. I'd forgotten how unhappy we were at this age. Just to give you a heads up, eating and drinking our problems away won't work.
You're not doing yourself any favors isolating yourself from the world on this island. Hey, don't get snippy with me. I know it's beautiful and all your friends are here. But your family is on the mainland. Maybe you don't believe me now, but your family is your strongest support system. Yes, even Dad. Wait'll he sells the farm--you're going to be amazed at the transformation. Ever seen Dad truly happy? Besides catching a record-breaking striped bass, I mean? You will.
I see we're working at the Block Island Grocery. We'll remember this job fondly, and your boss, Mary Jane, will stand out in your memory as one of the best people you ever worked for. It's not the last job we'll have out here--things will be changing for you, work-wise, soon. I'm excited for you! You'll have a grown-up job, and a side job as a writer . . . yes, you're finally going to get off your tuckus and write more. You'll be published every week, actually. Don't give up.
You're about to embark on some not-so-fun changes, too. You'll soon make the biggest mistake of your life, and believe me, by the time we're my age, we've done some spectacularly stupid things. I'd love to tell you not to get married, but I know us, and we're usually indignantly sure when we're right, even when we're terribly wrong. Here's the good news: you'll be a stronger person when it's all over. Someday you'll be able to recognize that and forgive yourself. It's going to take longer than I'd hoped, but it'll happen.
I do wish we'd learned to forgive ourselves for not being perfect a lot sooner than we have. I guess there's something to be said for getting older--yes, the occasional chin hair sucks, but on the plus side, we stop caring about the little things. I said plus side. Not size, side. Stop being so damn sensitive about your weight!
Getting ready to head out to the Albion? I vaguely remember those days. Guess who you're still in touch with from the island? Martha, and Liz, and Judie mostly, none of who will be at the bar tonight. You do have a lot of island Facebook friends (Faceb--it's a thing, don't worry about it) but the people you interact with most are from the paper. Whoops! Did I just give away who you'll be writing for? I can't wait for the day when you realize that Martha Ball has the most wonderful sense of humor. Seriously, her story about trying on bathing suits will have you wetting your pants. That's the point when you'll realize that you're missing the true beauty of the island: there are some fabulous people out here. Get to know them better.
You have some hard lessons ahead of you, and I don't envy you that. Here's the good news: things are going to get better. You'll eventually grow up, move on, and even get serious about writing. You'll make new friends--awesome, wonderful friends who love to talk about writing and editing and bad horror movies as much as you do. You'll get to hold on to the people on the island right now that you don't even realize yet that you adore, who also love to talk about writing and editing and cheesy horror. You'll talk about island life, and laugh at jokes about tourists and days with no boats that nobody else will get. Because where you are now, for better or for worse, is still a part of you, too.
The best news: one of the jobs you're going to land soon on the island is going to parlay itself into the dream job you have now on the mainland. Your new novel just came out and you've got another one coming out soon. You talk to your sister every day and you can drop in on your parents for coffee whenever you want.
And yes, you're skinny.
Hang in there, kid. We're going to be all right.
You at 42